ChillFactors

Give winter the cold shoulder with these 45 ways of preparing for the season of snow and ice.

Focus On Winter

November 07, 1999|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Sun Staff

Forget the countdown to the end of the millennium. Even scarier to homeowners who hate to flush the furnace and deal with frozen pipes -- and how many of us really like these chores? -- is the countdown to winter. That's officially Dec. 22, folks. Which leaves us 45 days.

Luckily there are more ways to prepare for winter than cleaning the downspouts, some of which are actually fun. So we've made up a list of 45 things to do and interspersed the really nasty ones with some you're going to enjoy. Just finish one a day and voila! your home, garden, car and psyche will make it through just fine.

Tackling the to-do list:

1. Check the weather stripping around doors and windows and replace if necessary. Caulk if you need to.

2. Drain the gas from the lawn mower.

3. Store the last of your summer clothes and make sure winter clothes are ready to wear. Are there any buttons missing, for instance?

4. If you have a service contract for your furnace, set up an appointment now before the really cold weather hits. That's when everyone calls. If you do your own servicing, clean or replace filters and complete routine maintenance work like flushing. Replace furnace filters every two months.

5. Plan to buy yourself a bouquet of fresh flowers once a week till spring comes. Start now.

6. Install your storm windows or get them down and in place.

7. Wrap any pipe that tends to freeze -- in a crawl space or against an exterior wall, for instance -- with insulation. If stronger measures are needed, use heat tape on the pipe. (You'll need an electrical outlet nearby.)

8. Store the patio furniture and the grill.

9. Stock up on vitamin C, tissue with lotion, echinacea (if you believe it reduces the sev- erity of colds), lip balm and cough drops.

10. Clean registers, radiators and baseboards. Make sure no furniture is blocking the flow of heat.

11. Order firewood. Have a place ready to stack it before the truck comes.

12. Knock the dirt off gardening tools and wipe them with an oily rag before storing them for the winter. Put away the hoses.

13. Make a list of movies you've been wanting to see so you'll have it on hand and won't have to wander aimlessly along the shelves of the video store.

14. Get out your wool and electric blankets. If you didn't wash them or have them cleaned last spring -- and we bet you didn't -- do it now.

15. Schedule a free energy audit with BGE. You'll get suggestions about weatherizing and evaluations of appliance efficiency.

16. Join the Y or a health club. You won't feel like walking or jogging outdoors when the weather gets cold.

17. Clean gutters, downspouts and storm drains. Consider an investment in gutter guards.

18. Buy a bird feeder and a large bag of birdseed. Hang the feeder where you can see it from the house.

19. Remove window air conditioning units or cover them with plastic for insulation.

20. Check the slope to make sure water drains away properly from the foundation of the house. If it doesn't, deal with it now.

21. Buy the softest, warmest, most luxurious throw you can afford.

22. Mulch flower beds, foundation plantings and young trees.

23. Test and lubricate the sump pump.

24. Get a flu shot.

25. Buy a pair of fuzzy slippers.

26. Check the chimney for soot buildup, and call a professional if it needs cleaning.

27. Stock up on hot chocolate, oatmeal, brandy, gourmet canned soups -- whatever you think of as essential winter food and drink.

28. Put an old blanket, ice scraper, snow brush, jumper cables and a bag of non-clumping kitty litter in the trunk of your car. Stick a couple of clean rags under the driver's seat.

29. Buy a carbon monoxide detector.

30. Plan to take a course in January: a foreign language you've always wanted to learn, Shakespeare's Sonnets or Plumbing 101. Check out the offerings at a high school, community college or university now and register as soon as you can.

31. Buy a new fire extinguisher.

32. Replace the car's wiper blades. Top off the window-washer solvent. Check the anti-freeze.

33. Eat more sweet butter.

34. Locate the family's mittens and boots. Throw away the ones that don't have a mate.

35. Put the snow shovel somewhere where it's easy to get to. If you need a new one, buy it now, not when a blizzard is forecast the next day.

36. If you suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), consider investing in the lights that combat it. The expense might be worth it in the long run.

37. Find five simple recipes for comforting stews and soups so you'll have them on hand when you need them.

38. Make sure shrubs and trees are well watered before the ground freezes.

39. Turn off inside cutoff valves, drain exterior faucets and leave them open.

40. Schedule a regular appointment for a manicure once a week and/or a pedicure once a month. Hands chap and nails crack easily in the cold. A pedicure will remind you of summer and pretty painted toes.

41. Buy ice-melting chemicals, sand or the equivalent for your front steps now.

42. Get a humidifier for your bedroom. You'll sleep better.

43. Clean out the garden after the first hard freeze. Diseases live in dead plant material.

44. Bleed the radiators.

45. Make sure your sled is in good working order.

Pub Date: 11/07/99

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